Tl;dr – underground walk, bullet train bang on time as ever, bullet train number 2 bang on time as ever, had to read Japanese for the bus
Our next destination was a ryokan (a traditional Japanese guesthouse) in a town called Onimichi. Once we had Big Bertha and Max (my bag, because it says “Cabin Max” on the front) we headed down into the station by the hostel. The bullet trains (or Shinkansen to use their proper name) use a completely seperate rail network to the local trains so we had to pass underneath the whole station. So we must have walked the best part of a mile underground before we reached our platform.
Japanese trains are world renowned for being punctual and reliable. We were on the platform maybe 10 minutes and in that time 2 trains turned up and left as they said they would. Then at 14:25 ours arrived.
There are a number of different classes of Shinkansen and we were getting the best and fastest one; the Nozomi. We got on the carriage our seats were in (the trains stop at the correct place everytime so each carriage is signposted) and found our seats. The seats are set up in rows of 5 with an extra wide walkway splitting them into 3 and 2. The leg room is twice that of British trains and the seats all swivel so everyone can always face forward (or backwards if you want). I have a massive amount of respect for the Japanese rail network and it puts the British rail network to shame. I was having a great time!
Just over an hour of smooth, punctual, roomy train later we arrived at our first stop to change onto a second Shinkansen at Fukuyama. We had 8 minutes between arriving and departing which would terrify you in Britain. But no such worries in Japan. Everything just works.
One very short train ride later (with regards to time, not distance. These trains regularly go up to 200mph) we were in Onomichi. I knew we needed to get a bus but Onomichi is not a destination filled with tourists so they didn’t have anything written in English. I had a screenshot of our destination in kanji and I compared it to the writing on the bus that turned up, but it looked different. We walked to the next stop and after a while of searching found the dalek, dismembered hand oreo-headed stick-man, box we were looking for. On the bus I showed the driver the screenshot and he confirmed our hopes with a very exuberant “OK!”.
On Japanese buses the front is largely reserved for anyone with “special needs”, i.e pregnant ladies, handicapped, elderly etc. The bus we got on had one lady in the back half and a completely full front half. The lady in the back must’ve been well into her 70s but she just wasn’t old enough for the elderly seats on this bus!
When we got to dalek, dismembered hand oreo-headed stick-man, box we disembarked. We turned up the road and in no time at all we found our ryokan, ready to live like the Japanese do.
14:00 (GMT +9) walk from Hana Hostel to Kyoto Station: 15 minutes
14:27 Shinkansen to Fukuyama Station: 1 hour 18 minutes, ¥18,520 (£139.14) – combined with subsequent train
15:53 Shinkansen to Shin-Onomichi Station: 8 minutes, see previous
16:10 bus to 温泉口: ¥280 (£2.10), 9 minutes
16:19 walk to Urashima Ryokan: 7 minutes
Total time in transit: 2 hours 26 minutes
Total travel time: 1 hour 47 minutes
Total cost: £141.24 (£70.62 each)